Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has described the recent floating of Sukuk Islamic bond by the Federal Government as another clandestine moves to Islamize the country.
In a statement signed by CAN’s General Secretary, Rev. Musa Asake, the body called on the Federal Government to without delay abrogate the laws and framework behind the bond. It vowed that it was going to seek legal redress should government fail to do that.
“The recent floating of Sukkuk Bond by the government is not only sectional but illegal and a violation of the constitution. Every law that has been promulgated to back the Sukuk issuance and promote an Islamic banking system in Nigeria is ultra vires, illegal, null and void,” part of the statement read.
Noting that Nigeria had never at any time held a referendum or convened a constituent assembly that passed a resolution declaring the country an Islamic state, CAN warned that “the manipulations and scheming to smuggle the country into a full blown Islamic state should stop.”
Asake argued that, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF), the issuance of Sukuk by non-Islamic countries was a breach of the religious neutrality of the government of such states.
“The FG must dismantle all legal and institutional framework established to promote Islamic financing in Nigeria. We affirm that the territorial integrity of Nigeria is undermined through the issuance of Sukuk in the country. We hope that the government shall desist from its policies of unbridled religious sectionalism,” he said.
Defending the actions, Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, explained that “Sukuk is not an attempt to Islamise Nigeria in any form. On the contrary, it is an attempt at financial inclusiveness. The difference between Sukuk Bond and other bonds is that if you invest in Sukuk bond, you earn no interest.
“So, the scheme appeals to many people who don’t believe that money should gather interest. They, however, engage in profit sharing in the sense that if the government makes a profit from the bond, they give the investor a part of it but if the government makes no profit, the investor is not entitled to anything.”
Just last week, the Federal Government, through its agency of the Debt Management Office (DMO), announced plans to issue the maiden edition of sukuk bond as a means of raising funds and financing budget deficits.
Sukuk is the Arabic name for financial certificates, also commonly referred to as “sharia compliant” bonds. Sukuk bonds are defined by the Accounting and Auditing Organisation for Islamic Financial Institutions as “securities of equal denomination representing individual ownership interests in a portfolio of eligible existing or future assets.”
Sukuk was developed as an alternative to conventional bonds, which are not considered permissible by many Muslims as they pay interest and may finance businesses involved in non-sharia-compliant activities (gambling, alcohol, pork, among others).